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Friday, January 16, 2009

Point-Counterpoint

<umunmutamku> Here's something I object to:

Interspersed in one of the innumerable ritual texts we find a narrative (KUB XII 63 Vs. 21–34) that includes a dialogue between self-styled 'men of ḫurkil' (ḫurkilas pesnes) and the "house" of the storm god, whose bidding they are ready to perform. ...

In legal terms the wages of ḫurkil was normally death, subject to the king's discretion and sometimes local option in border areas. If we put together the legal meaning of "capital sex crime" and the etymological sense of "strangulation," the ḫurkilas pesnes seem to have been some kind of sex-related miscreants fit to be strung up but given a judicial chance to redeem themselves, to show their mettle by strangling animals as a form of substitute atonement. They were the opposite of macho men, thus effeminates, and most probably passive homosexuals. Although the Law Code is silent on the topic, it is possible that this old tale resonates with echoes of ancient customary law with respect to catamites.

Here again Old Germanic data support the conclusion. Those societies harbored murderous contempt for submissive partners in pederasty. Tacitus describes how cowardly, unwarlike, and bodily heinous persons were plunged into the mud of marshes and covered with hurdles as a form of suffocation. The hundreds of throttled Iron Age corpses found preserved in Danish and German peatbogs offer grisly confirmation. The key term for this kind of man in Old Norse was argr from IE *órǵhos 'fuckee', vs. *orǵós 'fucker', with the same accent opposition as in *Hwórǵhos vs. *Hworǵhós, 'strangled one' vs. 'strangler'; argr and vargr are in fact attested rhyme pairs in Old Icelandic, choice terms of aggravated obloquy. But the real clincher to the Hittite tale is in the story that Ammianus Marcellinus (31.9.5) tells of the Germanic tribe of the Taifali:

"They are a shameful lot, so mired in depraved practices that among them young boys are coupled with the men in a bond of unspeakable cohabitation. . . . Yet if someone, upon growing up, alone catches a boar or kills a huge bear, he is freed from the stain of unchastity."

Catching a wolf and lion in Anatolia, a boar and bear in Germania, potentially vindicating ḫurkilas pesnes from penal retribution in one instance, rehabilitating a catamite colluvione incesti in the other—these are hardly trivial accordances. They are strong evidence of a common cultural, in this instance Indo-European, heritage."

<grisom> Only being half-whimsical here: I think a real case could be made that far from being an extraordinary act that frees a man from punishment, the catching or killing of a dangerous wild animal is a totally *ordinary* part of a two-step initiation: first you get fucked in the ass, then you kill a wolf, then you're a proven man. Consider the tale of the wolf in 300 as you read on.

In particular:

"They are a shameful lot, so mired in depraved practices that among them young boys are coupled with the men in a bond of unspeakable cohabitation. . . . Yet if someone, upon growing up, alone catches a boar or kills a huge bear, he is freed from the stain of unchastity."

I'd love to know what that ellipsis is hiding, but from this quote it sure sounds like being "coupled with the men in a bond of unspeakable cohabitation" was the usual way of growing up among the boys of the Taifali. Which would mean that it was also the usual way of things that at a certain age a young man would have to either kill a wild animal or be killed himself.

This type of pass-the-test-or-die initiation is actually pretty common. Joseph Campbell claims that some Australian aborigines, for instance, have a male initiation ritual which involves the older men of the tribe ritually slicing up the young boys' penises. Any boy who lets out a cry of pain during these proceedings is killed on the spot, eaten by the men, and never spoken of again.

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Maxims and minims for the wise and the foolish

  • LANGUAGE IS A HIERARCHICAL AUTHORITY
    A GOVERNMENT OF THE CONSCIOUSNESS — Tezcatlipoca
  • Whoever fights against the empire, becomes the empire. [or something along those lines] — Philip K. Dick [as told to Tezcatlipoca]
    • We’re not fighting the empire! We are the empire! Go away, or we'll smack you with this stick! — Tezcatlipoca
  • You don't have to be straight to shoot straight. — Barry Goldwater
    • Indeed, we must prevent life, which is frequently fatal. — Umunmutamku
      • There are also a number of legitimate scientific reasons for it as well (though I don't know what they are) — Tezcatlipoca
  • Instead of thinking of Scripture as a manual, I try to think of the Bible as ‘a boyfriend’. — punkrainbow
    • Your feelings are lying to you. — Jer 17:9
  • READ A BOOK, I'M SURE IT'S IN ONE OF THEM. — Tezcatlipoca
    • Books are full of bullshit and lies! — Tezcatlipoca
      • We will lie to you but we will lie to ourselves as well. You will, however, see through our lies and grasp the shining truth within. — The KLF
  • A Gnostic is by definition a knower, and since knowledge supersedes belief, a knower cannot very well be a believer. — Stephan A. Hoeller
    • talking about the great unknown is ridiculous. it’s THE GREAT UN-FUCKING-KNOWN — Anonymous
      • The enemy knows the system. — Claude Shannon

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